Monday After Thanksgiving: Reading “roger”

Self has a copy of roger, vol. 2, spring 2007.

This is a really interesting literary journal. This issue has a piece written by Denise Duhamel: A Poem Written on Venetian Blinds, Slats Facing Outside (The Hilton Garden Inn on East Virgin Court in Tulsa). Self loves her titles; where does she get such great titles? And the poem, too, is very funny.

This evening, the first really restful evening since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, self is watching Deborah Norville re-play a message left by Kanye’s mother the day before her fatal plastic surgery. Kanye’s mother talks about having “everything from her knees to her neck” done.

With Norville’s bland voice droning on in the background, self settles herself on the couch and begins reading a short story by Marlene Lee, called “Passage.” In the story, a middle-aged woman is experiencing a moment of extreme disorientation at a writer’s conference (ha ha ha ha!): “She’d never heard of such a thing, but she signed a check drawn on her inheritance funds and was directed to a room on the second story of a stone dormitory.” (Hmmm, self thinks, I wonder which one that is?? But, once again, I digress)

The woman experiences another moment of confusion when she belatedly realizes that her bathroom is shared. See, she has just set out all her medication on the bathroom counter, when she hears a discreet knock. And the knock is of course from the room on the other side of the bathroom, which turns out to be shared by a couple (And, upon reading this passage, the image of self’s room at VCCA rises up in her mind, for self too had to share a bathroom, and thank God her “bathroom-mate” turned out to be Drew, a composer, who never spent any time in his room, so it was like having a private bathroom, and self could lie back in the tub and soak in lavender salts every single night, if she felt inclined to do so)

Anyhoo, the female half of the young couple tells the middle-aged woman (whose name is Rebecca, apologies to dear blog readers for not revealing this information sooner) that she is only there to accompany her husband: “My husband, Timmy, is a writer. He’s written hundreds of pages.” (!!@@) Which dialogue sounds very familiar to self. Coming home from one of those AWP conferences, this one held in Vancouver, self was seated next to a young woman who kept passing a baby back and forth with a man seated in the row behind. It turned out the young woman was a writer, and the man was there to take care of the baby. And the young woman happened to be a Stegner. AND she happened to be having her first book published by Penguin. AND, a few months later, self picked up a copy of The New Yorker and found the young woman’s story therein. Self’s life is full of such astonishments. And later she did hear of the young woman giving a reading at Kepler’s, which self was unfortunately unable to attend.

Anyhoo (again), this story by Marlene Lee is so very interesting. The middle-aged woman, Rebecca, happens to overhear a disturbance coming from the opposite room, and she hears the young woman shouting, “It’s just a story!” and, “He’s not necessarily writing about you!” And, still further, “Timmy is a wonderful person and he’s my husband. You shouldn’t have been going through his notebooks!”

And at this point, self wants to sit down and just laugh her head off. Because, how many times has she not had to utter those or similar lines? Oh, countless, countless times.

And let’s see how Marlene Lee ends that scene. She writes:

How terrible to be a writer, Rebecca thought. Once you write something, people read it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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